As more patients are tested positive for H1N1 virus infection in major Norwegian cities, doctors fear that Norway is facing a possible endemic outbreak of the disease also know as the swine flu.
As many as 84 cases of swine flu have been registered so far by the Akershus University Hospital east of Oslo, Jan Erik Berdal, a doctor in the hospital's infectious disease section, told reporters.
"We are facing an epidemic. It seems to me that it has really taken off now. It seems that we are at the top or in the middle of such an epidemic," Berdal said.
Fourteen of the 22 patients hospitalized on New Year Eve with flu symptoms were tested positive for the H1N1 virus.
In the western coastal city of Bergen, 14 people have been hospitalized at Haukeland University Hospital and their blood samples have been taken to see if they have been infected with the swine flu virus, the health authorities in Norway's second largest city announced.
"We expect to detect swine flu among patients in Bergen too, but we do not know this for sure until we get any further tests, " said a statement issued by Haukeland University Hospital.
Meanwhile, three swine flu cases were reported earlier on Monday in the southwestern Norwegian city of Stavanger and one similar case was found on Monday afternoon in St. Olav's Hospital in Trondheim, a major coastal city in central Norway.
Extra personnel have been mobilized in Oslo to deal with a possible major outbreak of the H1N1 infection.
The high numbers mean that many more swine flu cases are yet to be detected, according to medical workers.
Last Thursday an 11-year-old Norwegian boy from Porsgrunn died of swine flu.
But there is no need for panic as people who took vaccines in 2009 have antibodies to resist the disease this year, said health officials.
It is not too late to take vaccines even now.
"A lot still has time to develop a protective immunity," said Karin Roenning, director for the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology.
Berdal at Akershus University Hospital also said that he did not think the swine flu endemic will pose a great threat to the Norwegian population.